Chicago Botanic Garden

Plant Science — Conservation

Invasive Plants in the Chicago Region

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Plants with a dash under the "alternatives" column are not commonly used ornamentally. You can find more information on alternatives at Illinois' Best Plants or www.bestplants.org.

HERBACEOUS PLANTS
Species Common Name Status Alternatives
Aegopodium podagraria Goutweed R Asarum (wild ginger), Epimedium spp. (barrenwort), Glandularia canadensis (mock rose vervain), Hosta (hosta)
Alliaria petiolata Garlic mustard R ______
Arctium minus Lesser burdock  R ______
Carduus nutans Nodding plumeless thistle R Echinacea spp. (coneflower), Silphium spp. (rosinweed, prairie dock, compass plant)
Centaurea maculosa Spotted knapweed R Echinacea spp. (coneflower), Silphium spp. (rosinweed, prairie dock, compass plant)
Cirsium arvense Canada thistle R Echinacea spp. (coneflower), Silphium spp. (rosinweed, prairie dock, compass plant)
Cirsium palustre Marsh plume thistle R (see C. arvense)
Cirsium vulgare Bull thistle R (see C. arvense)
Conium maculatum Poison hemlock R Achillea spp. (yarrow), Aruncus spp. (goatsbeard), Actaea racemosa (black cohosh), Filipendula spp. (meadowsweet)
Coronilla varia Crown vetch R Asarum spp. (ginger), Epimedium spp. (barrenwort), Glandularia canadensis (mock rose vervain), Hosta (hosta), Viola (violet)
Daucus carota Queen Anne's lace R Aruncus spp. (goatsbeard), Achillea spp. (yarrow)
Dipsacus laciniatus Cutleaf teasel R Echinacea spp. (coneflower), Rudbeckia spp. (black-eyed Susan)
Dipsacus sylvestris Teasel R (see D. laciniatus)
Duchesnia indica Wild strawberry R Waldsteinia ternata (barren strawberry)
Echinops sphaerocephalus Globe thistle R species
E cultivars
Liatris spp. (blazing star), Monarda spp. (beebalm), Phlox spp. (phlox), Salvia spp. (sage), Thalictrum spp.(meadowrue), Veronica spp. (speedwell)
Epilobium hirsutum Hairy fireweed R (see E. sphaerocephalus)
Euphorbia cyparissias Cypress spurge R Origanum laevigatum (ornamental oregano), selected Sedum spp. (stonecrop)
Euphorbia esula Leafy spurge R Aurinia saxatilis (basket-of-gold)
Glechoma hederacea Ground ivy R Ajuga spp. (bugleweed), Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (leadwort), Plumbago auriculata (cape leadwort)
Gypsophila paniculata Baby's breath W Boltonia asteroides (boltonia), Panicum virgatum cvs. (switch grass),
Hemerocallis fulva (locally invasive) Tawny daylily R Hemerocallis hybrids (daylily), Lilium spp. & cvs. (lily), Papaver orientale (Oriental poppy)
Hesperis matronalis Dame's rocket R (See E. sphaerocephalus)
Houttuynia cordata Chameleon plant W Alchemilla mollis (lady's mantle), Asarum spp. (ginger), Chrysogonum virginianum (green and gold)
Hypericum perforatum Common St. Johnswort R Other Hypericum spp. (St. Johnswort)
Iris pseudacorus Yellow flag iris R species
E cultivars
Iris fulva 'Lois Yellow' (copper iris), Iris virginica var. shrevii (interior blue flag iris)
Lespedeza cuneata Chinese bush clover R Baptisia spp. (wild indigo)
Linaria vulgaris Butter-and-eggs R Antirrhinum majus cvs. (snapdragons), Calibrachoa cvs. (million bells), Digitalis spp. (foxglove), Nemesia fruticans cvs. (nemesia)
Lotus corniculatus Bird's-foot trefoil R ______
Lysimachia nummularia Moneywort R Chrysogonum virginianum (green and gold), Origanum laevigatum (ornamental oregano)
Lythrum salicaria Purple loosestrife R Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), Liatris spp. (blazing star), Physostegia virginiana 'Vivid' (obedient plant)
Melilotus alba White sweet-clover R Baptisia spp. (wild indigo)
Melilotus officinalis Yellow sweet- clover R Baptisia spp. (wild indigo)
Pastinaca sativa Wild parsnip R ______
Perilla frutescens Beefsteak plant R Hibiscus acetosella (red leaf hibiscus), Ocimum basilicum cvs. (basil), Solenostemon scutellarioides (coleus)
Polygonum cuspidatum = P. japonicum Japanese knotweed E Actaea racemosa (black cohosh), Aruncus dioicus (goatsbeard), Polygonatum spp. (Solomon's seal), Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal), Tricyrtis spp. (toad lily)
Polygonum sachalinense Giant knotweed R (see P. cuspidatum)
Portulaca oleracea Purslane R species
E cultivars
Aurinia saxatilis (basket-of-gold), selected Sedum spp. & cvs. (stonecrop)
Potentilla argentea Silver cinquefoil R Chrysogonum virginianum (green and gold)
Rorippa sylvestris Creeping yellow-cress R Aurinia saxatilis (basket-of-gold), selected Sedum ssp. & cvs. (stonecrop)
Rumex acetosella Garden sorrel R Beta vulgaris 'Bright Lights' (Swiss chard) Solenostemon scutellarioides (coleus)
Saponaria officinalis Bouncing bet R species
E cultivars
Liatris spp. (blazing star), Monarda spp. (bee balm), Phlox spp. (phlox), Salvia spp. (sage), Thalictrum spp. (meadowrue), Veronica spp. (speedwell)
Sonchus arvensis Field sow-thistle R Coreopsis spp. (coreopsis); Helianthus spp. (sunflower)
Valeriana officinalis Common valerian R (See E. sphaerocephalus)
Verbascum thapsus Flannel mullein R Digitalis spp. (foxglove)
Verbena bonariensis Purpletop verbena W (See E. sphaerocephalus)
GRASSES
Species Common Name Status Alternatives
Agropyron repens Quack grass R Panicum virgatum cvs. (switch grass), Sporobolus heterolepsis (prairie dropseed)
Bromus inermis Smooth brome R ______
Festuca elatior (=F. arundinacea) Tall fescue R ______
Festuca pratensis Meadow fescue R ______
Microstegium vimineum Japanese stilt grass R ______
Miscanthus sacchariflorus Amur silver grass R (see A. repens)
Miscanthus sinensis Chinese silver grass R var. (see A. repens)
Miscanthus sinensis 'purpurascens' Autumn Red Miscanthus, Flame Grass, Eulalia, Maiden Grass, Zebra Grass R ______
Phalaris arundinacea Reed canary grass R Spartina pectinata 'Aureomarginata' (variegated prairie cordgrass)
Phragmites australis Common reed R Erianthus ravennae (Plume grass)
Setaria faberi Japanese bristlegrass R ______
Sorghum halapense Johnson grass R ______
SHRUBS
Species Common Name Status Alternatives
Berberis thunbergii Japanese barberry R species
E cultivars
Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)
Berberis vulgaris European barberry R Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)
Cotoneaster multiflorus Many-flowered cotoneaster P Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)
Elaeagnus angustifolia Russian olive W Aesculus parviflora (bottlebrush buckeye), Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry), Corylus americana (American filbert)
Elaeagnus umbellatus Autumn olive R Aesculus parviflora (bottlebrush buckeye), Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry), Corylus americana (American filbert)
Euonymus alatus Winged euonymus R Euonymus americanus (American strawberry bush), Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire), Rhus copallina var. latifolia 'Morton' (Prairie Flame shining sumac)
Euonymus europeaus European spindletree R Euonymus americanus (American strawberry bush), Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire)
Hippophae rhamnoides Common sea buckthorn R ______
Ligustrum obtusifolium Border privet P Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)
Ligustrum vulgare Common privet P Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark), Ribes odoratum (clove currant)
Lonicera x bella Bell's honeysuckle R Amelanchier spp. & cvs. (serviceberry), Calycanthus floridus (Carolina allspice), Diervilla spp. (bush honeysuckle)
Lonicera japonica Japanese honeysuckle R ______
Lonicera maackii Amur honeysuckle R Amelanchier spp. & cvs. (serviceberry), Calycanthus floridus (Carolina allspice), Diervilla spp. (bush honeysuckle)
Lonicera morrowii Morrow's honeysuckle R Amelanchier spp. & cvs. (serviceberry), Calycanthus floridus (Carolina allspice), Diervilla spp. (bush honeysuckle)
Lonicera tatarica Tatarian honeysuckle R Amelanchier spp. & cvs. (serviceberry), Calycanthus floridus (Carolina allspice), Diervilla spp. (bush honeysuckle)
Rhamnus cathartica Common buckthorn R Alnus rugosa (speckled alder), Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam), Corylus americana (American filbert), Thuja occidentalis (American arborvitae) and Thuja plicata (giant arborvitae)
Rhamnus frangula Glossy buckthorn R Alnus rugosa (speckled alder), Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam), Corylus americana (American filbert), Thuja occidentalis (American arborvitae) and Thuja plicata (giant arborvitae)
Rosa multiflora Japanese rose R Rosa spp. & cvs. (hardy shrub roses)
Spiraea japonica Japanese meadowsweet W Clethra spp. (summersweet), Hydrangea spp. (hydrangea), native Spiraea (spirea)
Syringa reticulata Japanese tree lilac W Clethra spp. (summersweet), Hydrangea spp. (hydrangea)
Viburnum opulus European cranberrybush viburnum R species
E cultivars
Viburnum dentatum cvs. (arrowwood viburnum), Viburnum trilobum (American cranberrybush viburnum)
TREES
Species Common Name Status Alternatives
Acer ginnala Amur maple P Acer rubrum (red maple), Quercus alba (white oak)
Acer platanoides Norway maple R species
E cultivars
Acer x freemanii 'Marmo' (Marmo maple), Acer miyabei (Miyabe maple), Acer rubrum (red maple), Quercus alba (white oak)
Ailanthus altissima Tree-of-heaven R Fraxinus spp. (ash species)
Alnus glutinosa European black alder P species
E cultivars
Celtis laevigata (sugarberry), Celtis occidentalis (common hackberry), Nyssa sylvatica (black tupelo)
Malus spp. (crabapple) Crabapple E Crataegus spp. (hawnthorn species), Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Morus alba Mulberry P Crataegus spp. (hawthorn species), Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Phellodendron amurense (except male cultivars) Amur corktree R Acer rubrum (red maple), Phellodendron amurense (male cvs.), Quercus alba (white oak)
Populus alba White poplar P Betula nigra (river birch), Catalpa speciosa (Northern catalpa), Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Prunus mahaleb Mahaleb cherry P Crataegus spp. (hawthorn species), Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus calleryana Callery ornamental pear W Chionanthus virginicus (fringetree), Crataegus spp. (hawthorn species), Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Robinia pseudoacacia Black locust R species
E cultivars
Catalpa speciosa (Northern catalpa), Gleditsia triacanthos (honeylocust)
Ulmus pumila Siberian elm R Dutch-resistant cvs. of Ulmus americana (American elm)
VINES AND GROUND COVERS
Species Common Name Status Alternatives
Ampelopsis brevipedunculata Porcelainberry vine R Clematis spp. (clematis)
Celastrus orbiculatus Oriental bittersweet R Aristolochia durior (Dutchman's pipe), Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)
Dioscorea batatas Chinese yam R No ornamental alternative; medicinal purposes only
Euonymus fortunei Wintercreeper E Asarum spp. (ginger), Helleborus spp. (hellebore)
Lonicera japonica Japanese honeysuckle R Clematis spp. (clematis), native Lonicera spp. (native honeysuckles)
Polygonum perfoliatum Mile-a-minute weed R ______
Pueraria montana =P. lobata Kudzu vine R ______
Vinca minor Common periwinkle E Asarum spp. (ginger)
Vincetoxicum nigrum Black swallowwort R ______
Vincetoxicum rossicum Swallowwort R ______
Wisteria sinensis Chinese wisteria W Wisteria macrostachya (Kentucky wisteria)
AQUATICS
Species Common Name Status Alternatives
Alternanthera philoxeroides Alligator weed R ______
Azolla spp. Water fern R Lemna minor (lesser duck weed)
Butomus umbellatus Flowering rush R Juncus effusus (common rush), Sagittaria, Schoenoplectus americanus (bulrush)
Cabomba caroliniana Fanwort R ______
Eichhornia crassipes Water hyacinth R ______
Egeria densa Brazilian elodea R Elodea canadensis (water weed)
Hydrilla verticillata Hydrilla, water thyme R ______
Hydrocharis morsus-ranae European frog-bit R Native Nuphar (yellow pond lily) and Nymphaea (waterlily)
Ipomoea aquatica Water spinach R Justicia americana (American water willow)
Myriophyllum aquaticum Parrot feather R Elodea canadensis (water weed)
Myriophyllum spicatum Eurasian watermilfoil R Elodea canadensis (water weed)
Najus minor Toothed water weed R ______
Nasturtium officinale Watercress R ______
Nymphoides peltata Yellow floatingheart R Native Nuphar (yellow pond lily)and Nymphaea (waterlily)
Pistia stratiotes Water lettuce R ______
Potamogeton crispus Curlyleaf pondweed R ______
Salvinia minima Water fern R ______
Salvinia molesta Aquarium water moss R ______
Trapa natans European water chestnut R ______

Chicago Botanic Garden Conservation Science Department Status:

R = Remove as soon as possible, including all cultivars, and/or do not add to collection in future;
P = Phase out (species that pose a lesser invasive risk, form significant structural features in landscape, and will be time-consuming to replace will be phased out over a five- to ten-year period);
E = Evaluate species and cultivars, then remove invasive taxa;
W = Watch list (taxa not posing a serious invasive risk in the Chicago area currently, but may do so in the future).